Vision Boards–or as Martha Beck says, All the Pretty Pictures

I’m taking a terrific online course right now called Mondo Beyondo.  The class is about Dreaming Big and our recent exercises reminded me of my vision board that is stuffed in my crafts closet.

It’s there because I scoffed at it.

I wasn’t ready to wholeheartedly chuck it into the recycle bin, but I didn’t think much of it.  I mentioned it to Brittan and she theorized that either I didn’t believe what was on the board or it wasn’t specific enough.


I specifically put images of dollar bills on it, and specifically warm beaches, and a specifically cute car.  It turns out that my specificity is pretty cliche.  I’ll explain that, but first, are vision boards effective?

Actually, yes, because our minds respond to visual stimulation and vision boards are a visual representation of our dreams, goals, and the lives we want.

Two personal examples:  My friend Julie made a vision board about a decade ago.  I remember standing in her kitchen marveling at the Palladian window over the sink.  She said something about her vision board and then disappeared for a few minutes to retrieve it from her office to show to me.  Almost everything on her board, including the window, had recently happened or been achieved. They were things like relationships with her kids, the house with the window, and something she was doing for work, as I recall.  I’m sure Julie has since created a new board.

Brittan made a vision board when she was about 16.  Her board had a picture of the Chicago Bean, U2, and something about snowboarding.  Since she made the board, she’s been to Chicago, seen U2 live, and is now a snowboard instructor. There are a lot of words on her board that define the person she grew into and is still becoming.  She took surfing and kayaking lessons but the images are still on her board.  I imagine, because she’d like to be better at those things.  Basically, she reworks the board as life changes and removes images from the board as they become irrelevant.

So, what magic or nonsense is this?

None.  It’s not magic or nonsense.  After reading about vision boards, I settled on an explanation from Martha Beck.  Simply put:

When you put your attention on something, you experience more of it. Maybe it is created by a magical force of attention. At the very least, you are going to selectively pay attention to these things you like once you selectively start to gear yourself to focus on them more.

I think Julie and Brittan both believed they were worthy of having or achieving whatever they had on their boards and believed those things could be achieved or attained.  Brittan’s not shy.  She hung her board loud and proud where she could see it every day.  Similar to writing down goals and hanging them up, she studied the images on her board.  She paid attention to what she wanted.  Any time her dad and I went into her room, we knew what she wanted too and in that way we could help make some of those things happen, like visiting Chicago as a family so we could visit the Bean and see U2 play at Soldier Field.

Too easy?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s an example of just one way things can happen.  It’s like anything else in life–sometimes it helps to say what you want out loud to other people.

So was my vision board too vague?  Martha Beck says you shouldn’t necessarily look for the cliche images but images that make your body react–make you ooh, and aah.  Some of my pictures did that, but not all of them. I did buy myself a new car, but not the one on my board (removed since then).  I am finally working on yoga but that’s about it.  It’s been mashed up in the closet so parts of it are gone or messed up.

My Vision board, goals and dreams

Another quote from Martha Beck:

When you start assembling pictures that appeal to this deep self, you unleash one of the most powerful forces on our planet: human imagination. Virtually everything humans use, do, or make exists because someone thought it up. Sparking your incredibly powerful creative faculty is the reason you make a vision board. The board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.

So, why was mine too vague?  Apparently our bodies don’t react to abstract ideas.  I did have some lovely ideas on my board but they were . . . yeah, pretty abstract.  Enough so, so that if somebody else looked at my board, they wouldn’t really know what I wanted–what my goals and dreams actually were in most cases.  It was a way for me to have a board I could hang in my work space but wouldn’t reveal too much–it would be pretty private.

Well, criminy–no sense in having goals and dreams if I’m going to be all hush-hush about ’em. I think I’m going to make a new board and try to do it differently this time.

I tell you what, you can Google ‘vision boards’ and get a truckload or twelve of example images and different theories about how to use vision boards, like either put them up on a wall or put them away and forget about them.  You can also find instructions about how to make them.

Shoot, why not use one of your Secret Pinterest boards as your vision board?  That’s a great idea!

In the end, I’m not totally clear on how abstract or specific I need to be but what makes the most sense to me is what I wrote at the beginning of this post.  Our minds respond to visual stimulation and vision boards are a visual representation of our dreams, goals, and the lives we want.

Have you made a vision board before?  Do you love them or think they’re hooey?





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